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tonight on "nightline," american valor. he had one of the most dangerous roles in the military. when he first met him, this was just another day on the job. then came the day that would change his life forever. the battle within is a fight he never counted on, that his family never expected. flashes of hope, and times the future seemed dim. spl how do you think i'm feeling? i can't feel my legs. i can't put phew underwear on. how do you think i feel? >> one man's story. in the name of a friend he can never forget.
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a special independence day edition of "nightline" starts right now. good evening, i'm terry moran. and happy independence day, everyone. tonight, we want to bring you a story that goes to the heart of our country's tradition of freedom won through sacrifice, from the revolution until today. the amazing story of one marine we first met more than a year ago in afghanistan in place that years of war had made unsafe for everyone, he signed up for duty that put him directly in harm's way. he talked to us about it at the time. american lal lor, one marine's
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story. >> reporter: we first meet joey jones in afghanistan. the financial base of the taliban. helmand is the deadliest province. do you feel like you're ready to retire? >> i'm jest getting started. >> reporter: and 23-year-old jones has one of the most tang rouse job, bomb disposal. >> it's a big deal for the country and the guys behind you. i saw an opportunity to do a little bit more. >> reporter: he's from dalton, georgia. a father of a 2-year-old boy. on this day, a tip comes in. jones and his team prepare for a tough day. >> bad day is coming out and doing our jobs and something going on. >> reporter: there are no big bomb suits. they prepare to detonate the
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ied. there's an achingly long silence, an then -- the blast rings in our ears. we walk to the crater. a local resident says there are three more this the area. >> get them out of here. >> reporter: hearts pounding, we follow our own footsteps across the canal. >> it is a good day. >> reporter: after we leave, jones updates our team with facebook messages. >> we have worked more ieds than any marine team in the country since march. shortly after y'all left, things got pretty hairy. we spent a few days fighting a lot and ieds became more complex. >> reporter: things were about the get immeasurably worse. they're sent out on a routine mission. defuse bombs in five days.
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jones takes a wrong step, triggering the explosion. >> i wasn't feeling pain yet. i knew what had happened. my face felt swollen. i could see my legs were gone. i knew that just by the blood loss, i might not make it. i asked one guy to pray with me. told him to tell my parents and my son i love them. >> reporter: his mother, skrois, was at home when the officers arrived to tell her the news. >> they wouldn't tell me if he was alive. they had told me he had lost both his legs. one below the knee, one above. they had to do an amputation. >> reporter: when he regained consciousness, he was a a landstuhl hospital in germany. >> i had tubes coming out of everywhere. it wasn't the best day of my
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life. >> reporter: he also learned somethininthat will continue the haunt him. >> corporal greer, his task was sweeping with metal detectors. a job he was very proud of-me suffered traumatic brain injury and lost his life. >> tilt it here. it's all bandaged up. >> reporter: he was moved to be bethesda medical center. he's remarkably upbeat. >> i feel great. you know, i didn't -- lose my legs. i was given a second chance at life. you know, marines -- you know -- die. daily and it would be very selfish h me to be upset over a becoming an amputee. when i could have -- could not be here right now. >> reporter: still ahead, over the next year, jones allows us
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to document the toughest battle of his life. >> get up, get up! depression is a serious medical condition. i feel like i have to wind myself up to deal with the sadness, the loss of interest, the lack of energy. [ male announcer ] ask your doctor about pristiq -- a prescription medicine proven to treat depression. pristiq is thought to work by affecting the levels of two chemicals in the brain -- serotonin and norepinephrine. tell your doctor right away if your depression worsens
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and we return now to the story of gar gent joey jones. he lost both his legs to a buries explosive in afghanistan. back here in washington with his family at his side, he begins to make a great recovery. then the scale of the challenge he faces hits him hard. here's clarissa ward. >> reporter: he's now able to get out of his room. it's been two weeks of sheer hell. >> once they took me off the
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heavy pain meds from germany, that was a horrible time. >> reporter: thehe phantom pain were often unbearable. >> sometimes it felt like someone was twisting my foot around to the point of trying to pop it off. those are phantom pains. they're much worse than real pains. those are the excruciating pains. and say, oh, that hurts.d on it it's just horrible. it's horrible. >> reporter: jones is ready to begin the long road of intense physical therapy. it is exhausting. both physically and mentally. >> pull up, pull up. pull up. get up. >> reporter: throughout the grueling rehab, when every day is a struggle, he keeps his sense of humor. >> there you go, taking our friendship to another level. >> reporter: he's surrounded by family and his high school
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sweetheart, meg. after school, they went their separate ways. she came straight here when he got hurt. >> there is nothing that can make me leave here. >> reporter: fellow marines drop in daily. >> it will be a long road. but you have a mind for it. i think you have the heart for it, too. >> reporter: but there are days when spirits lag. >> he said, mama, why did this have to happen to me when i was hemming people? i said, i don't know. i don't have the answers. >> reporter: do you feel angry? >> yeah. yeah. if i get mad at the computer, cuss at i all day long, it's not going change anything. dpl this might need a little help. >> reporter: he moves to walter reed after six weeks to get fitted for his first pair of shorties. short pros ticketic legs to help
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get body balance. the first few tentative steps. >> bring one foot forward. perfect. perfect. you're swinging through straight. good. >> reporter: incredibly tough. but so rewarding. >> it feels great to walk again. >> reporter: the next time we visit jones, his progress is slowing. >> you can feel my leg, there's a lot of bone on theoutside, as opposed to the inside. >> reporter: the shorties are causing him pain. he may need another surgery on top of the dozen he's already had. endless fittings and refittings. >> the other day, somebody asked me how i'm feeling. i said, i'm doing good, hanging in there. after he walked away, i felt like i should have said, you know, i don't know. how do you think i i feeling. i don't have legs. i can't put my underwear on, how do you think i feel? it's not okay.
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it's not gonna be okay. >> reporter: through it all, meg never leaves his side. >> the security issues. i'm afraid she's going to leave me for a legal guy. >> stop. no one could be as charming as you. >> charm only goes so far when you have to put somebody's underwear on for them. >> reporter: at christmas, he's strong enough to go home. his first time since deploying to afghanistan. in his hometown of dalton, georgia, he's become something of a local hero. >> i can't go to a restaurant without getting, you're the guy i saw on tv or if the paper. >> reporter: but he's unwavering in his focus. >> it's about the marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen at walter reed going through what i'm going through. it's about letting people know that, to me. part of that is also all the
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marines, soldiers, sailers, and airmen that have died. not for any other reason but to save the lives of the men around them. >> reporter: when we visit him at home in georgia, it's the first time we have seen him standing on his own since afghanistan. good to see you. >> good to see you, too. >> reporter: you're standing up! he trains every day with ta grop of close friends. >> it's not a walk. it's more of a waddle. >> reporter: it allows him to be with his 2-year-old son, braden, who has barely known his daddy. >> i think of the one good thing i have done in life when i think of braden. then with all the happiness comes a lot of stress. i get to watch him play with my mom and dad. but if i got on the floor with him, i can't move around.
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and it's frustrating. >> reporter: in spite of the frustration, it's a blissful time for jones and his family after that is s l they have been through. reconnecting and relaxing. sharing the joy of being alive and being together. jones still has a long road ahead in his recovery. and he battles with an emotional wound that may never heal. [ david ] well, i basically started noticing my hair loss a couple years ago, soi started using rogaine foam. [ male announcer ] only rogaine foam
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now the conclusion of the incredible story of marine sergeant joe we jones.
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having releshed to walk, he devotes s mself to new duties, family, school, his fellow wounded vets. beneath it all is a pain that hasn't diminished that no one else can see. >> reporter: after months of back breaking work. >> thanks. >> reporter: jones and his girlfriend, meg, have moved into their own apartment. and he's driving, a specially built truck bought with donated funds. you're look somethiing so great. oh, my gosh, wow. >> this is me. >> reporter: to be sure, he's but he still occasionally needs a hand. and some wounds may never fully heal. jones stepped on the ied. but another man lost his life. corporal daniel greer. >> i think about him every day.
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there's though amount of emotion that could ever take that away. i know i didn't do anything wrong. but maybe i didn't do enough stuff right. life gets easier. the prosthetics get easier. understanding that corporal greer is gone for good doesn't. it never will. never. >> reporter: his rigorous physical therapy routine is paying off. >> i'm walking. i can put on slacks. i'm being aggressive and taking control of my life again. >> reporter: he's just finished his first semester at the university of maryland. >> i have family to take care of. i'm not going to make a living with my hands again. i thing i definitely felt a sense of urgency when it comes to being successful. >> reporter: he's an intern with the defense threat reduction agency and a volunteer with the
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armed forces foundation. >> anything i can do for the charities that impacted my life, i try to give back. >> reporter: he's been presented with numerous awards and countless medals. at this year's dinner for combat and commander, he was seated at the table with the president. >> we talked about things about the fact that i lived i i hawai where he spent his childhood. adam, what's up, man? >> reporter: the highlight of his new life is the work he does at bethesda medical center. every week, he visits recently injured marines. this man lost both his legs one day after his baby boy was born. he hopes to offer advdve and moral support. >> it is you. no, hope so. there is a definite, yes, it will be, you know what i mean?
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>> reporter: despite efg he's been through, his feelings about serving his country refans same. >> i doipt join the military to kill anyone, to go iran and iraq, i joined to b bome a better person. to serve my country. >> reporter: it's early june. he's proposed to meg. >> our story is a book to be released. we were high school sweethearts that spent a lot of time finding themselves apart. and were able t come back together. she doesn't look at me and see he used to be in great shape. he used to be six-foot tall. she looks at me and sees, he is the love of my life. he is the charming sincere sweet guy that i fell in love with. >> reporter: already, jones is preparing for the next big
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challenge. running marathon. >> it's in november. there's though reason i can't run a small portion of it and hand cycle the rest and be ready to run the whole thing next year. >> reporter: life is looking good? >> it's looking fabulous. >> reporter: walking tall. joey jones is going places. he's showing no science of slowinindown. for "nightline," i'll clarissa ward the washington. >> you go, sergeant. r best wishes go out to sergeant jones and all of the men and women of the american armed forces this july. > the fate of casey anthony is in the hands of a jury tonight. after six weeks and 91 witnesses, the jury were handed the case. they'll pick up deliberations tomorrow at 9:30. catch the latest on this case on "good morning america." l
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